If you enjoyed The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, you might enjoy one of these books:
Alfred and Emily by Doris Lessing
In this combination memoir and alternative history, the author re-imagines the lives of her parents if World War I had not happened and also relates the facts of their lives in the wake of the war's devastation. This personal meditation on family, war, and memory will especially appeal to fans of Follett’s newest, Fall of Giants.
Annapolis by William Martin
Annapolis follows two families though eight generations in a sweeping historical family saga. Each generation of Staffords has sent at least one son to sea since the Revolutionary War; the Parrishes, on the wrong side of the war, lost their Annapolis house to the Staffords and are still trying to get it back. Like Follett, Martin’s smooth storytelling brings history to life.
Caribbean by James A. Michener
In one of Michener’s many epic novels, he traces Caribbean history from the 15th century to the present, including the cannibalistic Caribs, the decline of the Mayan empire, Columbus, piracy, Rastafarians, revolutions, and nationalism. Intricate plotting, accurate historical detail, and generations of engaging characters will appeal to fans of Follett’s historical novels.
The Forest by Edward Rutherfurd
Rutherfurd’s epic sagas are also sweeping tales that follow multiple families. The Forest chronicles the lives of five families over centuries of British history, starting in 1099. Also try his Sarum, Russka, London, New York, The Princes of Ireland, and The Rebels of Ireland, all epics in a variety of historical settings.
The Heaven Tree Trilogy by Edith Pargeter
Like Pillars of the Earth, this trilogy takes readers to 13th century England and a family of master stone carvers helping to build a cathedral. Politics play an important role, and historical detail adds to the author's storytelling skill. Pargeter’s well-drawn characters and fascinating descriptions create powerful tales of British history.
Morgan’s Run by Colleen McCullough
McCullough (The Thorn Birds) pens a tale of Australia's first settlers, based on the life of one man. Richard Morgan makes the awful journey from the top of 18th-century England's middle-class to one of society's lowest echelons, the first Australian penal colony. Vivid description and a strong protagonist make this a compelling read.
North and South by John Jakes
The rice-growing Mainses of South Carolina meet the iron-producing Hazards from Pennsylvania at West Point in 1842. Readers who like multiple plot lines and characters may enjoy this classic about the American Civil War, its causes, consequences, and effects on history and the lives of individuals.
Pompeii by Robert Harris
When an aqueduct fails, Roman engineer Marius Primus heads to the slopes of Mount Vesuvius to investigate, only to come face to face with an impending catastrophe—the eruption of the volcano in A.D. 79. Readers who especially enjoyed the technical detail of Follett’s cathedral building will appreciate Harris’s rich historical details and scientific minutiae.
Regeneration by Pat Barker
Fans of Follett’s Fall of Giants may also like Regeneration, with its elegant writing and engrossing story. It also describes the experiences of both historical and imagined characters during the first World War. The stage is set at Craiglockhart Hospital in Scotland, where Dr. Rivers cares for shell-shocked, despairing officers grappling with the aftereffects of bearing witness to combat's horrifying results.
Trinity by Leon Uris
Uris writes passionately about the tragedy of Ireland—from the famine of the 1840s to the Easter Rising of 1916—in a powerful and stirring novel about the loves and hates, defeats and triumphs of three families. The Larkens, the Hubbles, and the Weeds (Catholic hill-farmers, Presbyterian industrialists, and British aristocracy, respectively) populate this terrible and beautiful drama.
Also by Ken Follett:
World without End
Follett’s companion to The Pillars of the Earth takes place two centuries after the building of the elaborate Gothic cathedral in Kingsbridge. From 1327 to 1361, a web of ambition and revenge places the city at a crossroads of commerce, medicine, and architecture. The lives of two men and two women are braided together from childhood, and they will live to see prosperity and famine, plague and war.
Fall of Giants
In the first book of his new trilogy, Follett follows the fates of five interrelated families—American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh—as they move through the world-shaking dramas of World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women's suffrage. The Century Trilogy will ultimately follow these families through the entire 20th century.
In addition to historical epics, Follett also writes historical suspense and espionage thrillers. Start with Jackdaws, in which Special Operations agent Felicity “Flick” Clairet goes undercover to destroy the German lines of communication on the eve of World War II. An all-woman team dubbed the Jackdaws is trained to aid her in this very difficult mission.